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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Residents

The Big Bubble

Review by Gary Hill

The third (although it's called the fourth in the trilogy) in a planned series of albums from The Residents, this is my favorite of the three. It's much more vocal based (in fact, only one track is sans vocals), but the vocals are strange. Of course, what do you expect from The Residents, really? There is a real symphonic edge to it. This disc actually wanders into real prog at times, too. It also features a song that has become one of my favorites from this band, "Cry For The Fire." It should be noted that I've reviewed this here as a retro review, but also as part of a new box set. I strongly recommend getting it that way as there are plenty of bonus things on the disc itself, and it's just one of six CDs in the set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sorry
This has a real twisted and dark vibe to it. When the voices are intoning how sorry they are, it creates a sense of danger because of the weird nature. This feels like you could be peering into the mind of someone who is criminally insane. The music at the heart of it adds to that vibe. Then, after the two-minute mark the cut shifts gear to more of a noisy rocking jam. It's still suitably weird and dark.
Hop A Little
A weird voice seems to combine rockabilly and yodeling. The music comes in with suitable strangeness as that voice continues to drive it with some insane sounding riffing.
Go Where You Wanna Go
The voice is a bit part of the strangeness of this. Musically it has a dramatic and dark symphonic texture.
Gotta Gotta Get
A weird combination of scat singing and world music vocals seems to be at the heart of this. The cut has dramatic rather classical music as accompaniment. It's dark, strange and so cool. This twists out from there into a driving, powerhouse jam that has some cool piano along with some screams. There are symphonic elements over the top, too.
Cry For The Fire
This has a lot of vocal orientation early, but after a number of changes it works out to a powerful progressive rock based jam that's quite symphonic. More scat singing type vocals come in over the top. This is so strong, and actually one of my favorites from the Residents. I love the cool guitar fills late in the number, too.
Die-Stay-Go
The vocals and instrumentation seem to work both in unison and counter-point. This track is so cool and also so odd. It's dramatic, quite classical and powerful.
Vinegar
Freaky vocals and dramatic, yet strange music, merge here. There is a twisted world music vibe. This also has elements of symphonic soundtrack music. Yet, later sections bring a bit of a rock and roll vibe. There is some cool energy and driving sound later in the song.
Firefly
There is a bit of a driving rock intensity to this cut. It also has some of that symphonic element at play.
The Big Bubble
A weird vocal opens this and some electronic symphonic music joins as it continues. This is artsy, odd and so cool.           
Fear For the Future
I dig the powerful, driving, almost classical musical element at the heart of this thing. There is a lot of musical exploration on this piece. There are rock elements and things that feel more like soundtrack music.
Kula Bocca Says So
Driving with a real classical edge, the vocals are suitably weirded out. They remind me a bit of Magma, actually. This turns to a much more traditional symphonic meets world music arrangement as it approaches the closing. Then it shifts toward a dark and ominous element as the arrangement gets louder. Rocking textures emerge from there. This is another highlight of the set.
 
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